This Friday, the communities of Paonia and Hotchkiss will be cheering as their hometown football teams play out their annual rivalry at Paonia. While the winners take home the North Fork Bowl trophy, which Hotchkiss has claimed the past five years, there's more at stake this year than just bragging rights.
The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-1, 1A Western Slope League) are currently in third place in the WSL after a one-point loss on Sept. 28 to Cedaredge. The Bruins, one of two new teams in the 1A WSL, are in first place with a 6-1, 3-0 record. This is the first time in four years that Hotchkiss is not dominating the league, but they're hardly the underdogs in this match and are coming off of last Friday's 55-6 throttling of Roaring Fork (1-6, 0-3).
The Eagles are in second place with a 4-3 overall, 3-0 league record, and defeated visiting Lake County last Friday, 52-0. The final two games of the season, including a game at No. 1 Cedaredge on Oct. 26, will be their biggest tests this year.
Both teams have strong running games, and powerful running backs — Jacobe Galley for the Bulldogs and Will Austin for the Eagles. Against Lake County last Friday, Austin had nine carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while Galley ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' win Friday over Roaring Fork. Against the Rams, Hotchkiss rushed for 236 yards; against Lake County, Paonia rushed for 331 yards.
Both teams have a new quarterback at the helm. Both have experienced and successful defensive teams.
On special teams, Paonia recently acquired place kicker Jorge Quinonez, who kicked four PATs against Lake County and a 44-yard field goal in the Eagles' win at Meeker.
Paonia will be focused on maintaining their second-place standing in the league, which ensures a place in first-round state playoffs in three weeks. A loss for Hotchkiss would hold them in third place in the league.
With wins over the two top teams in the Southern Peaks League by Hotchkiss and Paonia playing one of their toughest early-season schedules in recent years, either team could pick up a wildcard berth.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., at Paonia Town Park.blog comments powered by Disqus